September 11th, 2001 was a tragic, unsettling, and monumental event for the United States. For many families directly effected by the events of 9/11, the date is painful and permanent. For others, the change in direction for the United States after 9/11 meant major disruptive changes in their lives — servicemen in the branches of the U.S. military had their careers and lives forever altered; air travelers had to learn and experience a new norm when it came to planning their travel; names of cities in far-off countries where the War on Terror was being fought on the ground were first heard and then heard again; just below the surface of the U.S. consciousness was the constant strain of living with the thought and fear that we could be attacked somewhere, anywhere on our soil at any time without warning or reason; and, our sense of security and tranquility had taken a severe blow.
For many months on a constant basis, and for many more months (and years) on a nearly daily basis, our national, regional, and local news in print, on television, and online, hammered and barraged us with unspecified threats of doom and gloom. A confusing color-code system of national threat level was always at a high-threat level. Children not born before September 11, 2001 were being exposed to warnings of insecurity and vulnerability that they could not possibly understand or comprehend. It seemed that we had either lost our sense of identity or had a change of our perception of self forced upon us. The future did not seem as bright or certain. We were coasting but not heading in any particular direction.
Despite the unthinkable catastrophe that we had suffered on 9/11, it also exposed our national commitment and determination. Our everyday individual lives, successes, and losses are like the earth’s top soil — shallow and subject to constant movement and change. Top soil is what can be seen at the surface but altered by man’s will. Top soil can be blown away with the wind or moved downstream by waters. Top soil is better in some parts of the country for farming and in other parts of the country for other activities. We see top soil every day but we don’t usually pay particular attention to it.
Fortunately, the events of 9/11 also exposed our country’s bedrock. Bedrock lies just below the top soil and is necessary in order to support the foundation of all of our buildings, roads, and bridges. Without bedrock, our lands would be barren and our lives empty. Bedrock is nonmoving, solid, and permanent.
Our nation’s social bedrock is what connects us all to each other, to our communities, and each of us as citizens of the United States. Our history is replete with our struggles and sacrifices in support and furtherance of our nation’s bedrock. After 9/11, we came together in our common suffering and our common connection. We once again felt that common bond as Americans — we came together as one nation, despite our individual differences. We had our loose topsoil removed by the events of 9/11 so that our nation’s bedrock was once again exposed. We sought comfort and support in our connected lives. We looked beyond our differences in lifestyles, religions. and ethnic backgrounds and we came together as a united people for the united future of our country. Immediately after 9/11, we once again became, as our forefathers promised in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, “We the People…”
On this 10th anniversary of the events on 9/11, we must never forget and we must always be ready to defend our nation’s bedrock — the people of the United States have more in common than they have differences. No matter in what direction the top soil of our daily lives takes us, we must never forget the underlying but not always visible bedrock of our nation’s character — a nonmoving, solid, and permanent shared commitment to “We the People.”